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Djuna Day opened Bluebird Laser as a laser hair removal clinic for trans folks. But it didn’t take long for her perspective to change.
“It quickly became clear to me that there are all kinds of people who don’t feel welcomed by the mainstream beauty industry, who are made to feel their bodies are inferior or irregular or gross,” she says.
“Women and men, cis, trans and non-binary folks – people of all body shapes, sizes and abilities – they’re all left out of mainstream clinics, which serve a very narrow segment of heteronormative, wealthy, mostly skinny white women – or at least that’s how they’re marketed.”
The Bluebird Laser backstory
Day opened Bluebird Laser in September 2019, just six months before the first COVID lockdown, but the spark of the idea came years before.
It took an unfortunate realization that trans women struggle to get competent care in such a gender-normative industry – if not explicitly excluded, then it’s not catered towards their specific needs.
“Skilled laser hair removal is one of our most needed esthetic services, and for many, a critical and required step in preparation for gender-confirming surgery,” she says. “It is also a service that allows us the ability to be seen in the world as who we are.”
After spending 20 years as a carpenter, she closed up her furniture studio and went back to school for medical laser training.
“When I was going through my own transition [in the 2010s], finding skilled and inclusive hair removal was extremely difficult,” she recounts. “It was brutal trying to find a place. I vowed [that] if I could, I would change this.”
Bluebird Laser originally operated out of two shared spaces in the east and west end. Even struggling through multiple lockdowns, it was clear there was a lot of interest – not just from trans and non-binary folks, but from all sorts of people who might have considered hair removal but never felt comfortable walking into a mainstream clinic.
There’s one group that kept seeking Day out, and it surprised her: cis men.
“It’s not a category I thought I’d be serving, but I realized it’s an important one,” she says. “They might be the folks most left out of laser hair removal. Even among other men, they’ve told me, it’s a hard thing for them to talk about.”
The bigger picture
Day’s goal is to make Bluebird as inclusive and accessible as possible. During the lockdown, she instituted Zoom consultations and now offers both in-person and remote versions. Her goal is to be as open and honest as possible about the laser process.
The mainstream industry often describes it as some sort of magic process, she says, which can give it somewhat of a bad reputation when the results aren’t instant. She’s more geared towards the science behind it – and the fact that it’s not an overnight process. It tends to take about 10 months and six to 10 sessions, and she tries to be open about why.
Since the last lockdown, Bluebird has moved into a space of its own at Bloor and Spadina. It’s designed to feel welcoming and intimate “like walking into a friend’s apartment” instead of the very bright and curated aesthetic of most clinics “that ends up making clients feel bad about themselves.”
There’s also now an internal, non-shared bathroom, which is important for trans clientele who might not feel comfortable using public bathrooms.
There’s also two treatment room spaces. Bluebird is currently a one-person operation, but Day is looking to hire new estheticians with similar outlooks. The demand has grown, and, during the time off, so has Bluebird’s waitlist.
Day thought she would be serving a neglected segment of the market, but it turns out there’s a ton of demand.
“I thought I would be the little niche laser provider,” she says. “It turns out, I am the one serving the mass market and they are the niche.”